Understory-Northcliffe-Western Australia

“Imagination is more important than knowledge,” said Albert Einstein.

With this in mind do you like the idea of sparking your imagination and of finding hidden treasure? Of course you do! And one small town in South West Australia is going to rock your socks off, not because of it’s amazing range of man-made things to do … you would be disappointed if I said there was a whole host of them – but because of it’s beautiful setting, it’s stunning nature and its …Understory.

I’m talking about Northcliffe, 366kms south east of Perth.

“Understory is a nationally unique art in nature experience that everyone can enjoy. Artworks are located along a 1.2km walk trail through pristine native forest. Sculptures, stories, poetry and music explore our relationship with nature and the ‘spirit of place’.”

Inspired by nature the Understory trail is a gorgeous walk through various vegetation types; coastal heathland to karri, jarrah and marri forests with abundant wild flowers from around September to November.

Understory-Northcliffe-Western Australia

New artworks are added regularly to ensure there is always something fresh for visitors to experience. Artists, writers and musicians have created innovative sculptures, stories, poetry and music to reflect and mirror the exquisite setting.

“Most people spend one hour to one and a half hours walking the trail and listening to a range of five audio tours (including interviews with participating artists, stories, poetry and music). There are also audio tours especially for children and youth.”


Open Daily 9am – 4pm (last entry 3pm)

Located at the Northcliffe Information and Visitor Centre Northcliffe, Western Australia.

It’s a place to wander (with or without headphones and the audio guide) and be inspired by nature, but more than that you’ll make discoveries at every corner.

“Oh quick, look! Over here.”

“No, wait … I’m listening to the story of this amazing sculpture.”

So went our conversation as we meandered around the woodland trail, headphones on, being inducted into the vision of the artists.

“We tame wood

into useful shapes,

but here it is wild,

full of the breath

of limitless stories.

A gate swings open.

A path beckons.

Be present!

Slow your stride.”

Lucy Dougan, WA Poet

It’s a place where your imagination can run riot, as you connect with the under-stories of the forest – secrets, songs, dreams myths – that help us connect with the spirit of place, and so form a sense of belonging.

“You’ll find the imaginative responses of over 50 nationally and internationally renowned artist, writers and musicians to the ancient forest of Northcliffe, will guide you on a journey of (re)-connection with creation.”  South West Development Commission.

You can find out more here: Northcliffe Visitor Centre

Time for a little exploration don’t you think? Has this inspired you?

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  1. We actually visited Northcliffe during our meanderings through South West Australia, but I had no idea it had this arty farty walk. You really do learn something new every day!

  2. Sometimes you have to know what your looking for, hey Kathy. But this should be a sign for the tourism powers that be to up their marketing of this absolutely charming ‘arty farty’ walk 😉

  3. How cool is that?! Sounds like an intriguing blend of a few of my favourite things!! Yet another thing to add to my ever-growing list …

  4. We drove through Northcliffe on our roadtrip last year but I didn’t know about this hidden walk through the forest. I’m always fascinated by the creative ideas people have.

  5. I love to discover art in new places and unexpected forms. Northcliffe sounds quite special , and well worth a visit!

  6. Oh what a fun combination of art and nature. Your photos made me feel like I was right there at your side!

  7. I am always looking for engaging grandchildren things to do, when I come to Bunbury. This would be a perfect combination of nature and art walk to inspire nature treasure hunts and art milestones with sketching books for the children to create their own art! I’m adding this to my WA checklist. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Wow, this is my idea of hiking and discovering something creative along the way, what fun!

  9. This sounds wonderful – an art experience in nature. Definitely something to put on the list for a visit to WA. I also like that there are audio tours available to accompany you.

  10. Carol Colborn

    I learned a new word, a very romantic one! Understory is the layer of vegetation beneath the main canopy of a forest! Northcliff has such a cool name. It probably is also very cool with all that you described. Sorry, I am a hopeless romantic!

  11. ZigZag is a great idea. I love hyperlocal blogs written by people who know the area well, Northcliffe sounds wonderful. If I ever travel to WA- you’ll be my source.

  12. I never heard of Northcliffe before but what a brilliant idea someone came up with to create such a special place! Australia is certainly full of marvels.

  13. It’s a tiny place Kay, so I’m not surprised you haven’t heard of it. But I love to bring little places off the beaten track to the attention of the world at large 😉

  14. Thanks Billie 🙂 And I’ll look forward to being your guide 🙂

  15. I love that you are hopeless romantic, Carol! And I’m so glad you have been inspired by Northcliff and learned a new romantic word 🙂

  16. Lucy, this would be a fabulous thing to do with the Grandies – and a place where they can run around and explore. Yep, I can feel a treasure hunt coming on 🙂

  17. Thanks Jackie. The synergy between art and nature at Understory is really symbiotic.

  18. Hi Red! Yes, I can feel a song coming on 😉 I plan to have you so busy by the time you get over to WA, you won’t know what to do first 🙂

  19. Denise Gillies

    Love Northcliffe and it’s sculpture trail. Thanks Jo for reminding me of all its treasures.

  20. Thanks for reading Denise. Yes, sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of WA’s quiet, secret spaces – ones that don’t get written about often 🙂

  21. I went on a family holiday down south staying in a chalet near Northcliffe back in June and it was sad yet very interesting to see the effects and extent of the massive fires earlier this year. I love Understory too, and one of my friends made a scupture for it (the red sundews one) which makes it even more interesting for me.

  22. I love the red sundews Bonny! What a talented friend you have. Those fires. Awful 🙁

  23. Understory is totally amazing. One thing I loved is seeing artwork by artists I know. Knowing the creator just makes the experience so much richer.

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